Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's Idaho hometown canceled its welcome-home plans after he was accused of being a traitor, Reuters reported on Wednesday, but officials insist protests did not force their hand.
The town of Hailey had planned a celebration of Bergdahl's homecoming from five years of captivity in Afghanistan on June 28, but the event was put off because the town "will be unable to safely manage the number of people expected,” City Administrator Heather Dawson told Reuters.
Her explanation is likely to be doubted, since the cancellation coincides with rising anger over accusations by Bergdahl's fellow soldiers that he intentionally abandoned his post in Afghanistan. The town has been inundated with emails from both sides of the debate.
The townspeople of Hailey had anxiously awaited their long-lost son’s return ever since he was captured by the Taliban in 2009, a year into his Afghanistan tour, Fox News reported. On Saturday he was freed in a prisoner exchange for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay -- an issue in itself -- but the jubilation was short-lived.
Bergdahl has been labeled “not a hero” by some, with many emailing Hailey City Hall. “You and anyone else involved in organizing this farce of a celebration should be ashamed of yourselves,” one email read, according to Fox News.
“This man deserves no welcome," another read by Dawson said. "His reward is being alive, unlike the brave soldiers who actually followed their orders and continued to search for him knowing full well he had deserted his post.”
But not everyone has turned their back on Bergdahl. "It's not like he’s been vacationing at Disneyland for five years," Sherry Horton, a former roommate of Bergdahl, told Fox News. "He’s been going through a lot so not only should we find out the truth but also take into account everything that’s happened over the five years."
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